Many businesses know they need search engine optimization, but they don't know much more beyond that. Columnist Casie Gillette has tips for determining the specifics.
If you’re a provider of search engine optimization (SEO) services, you’ve undoubtedly heard the following:
“I know I need SEO, but I don’t know exactly what I need.”
If you aren’t an SEO vendor, you may have found yourself saying just that at one time or another.
Businesses have slowly but surely begun to realize the value of search engine optimization, and consequently, the demand for SEO services has increased. However, it’s important to understand what you hope to gain from an SEO program before you embark on one.
After all, SEO can involve a lot of different things: technical audits, on-page content recommendations, conversion optimization recommendations, blog posts, link building programs, etc. It could also be priced in any number of ways dependent on how many of those things are included and to what extent. You’ll want to make sure that, when scoping out a program or vetting a vendor, you know what it is you should be looking for.
Below, I’ve identified three key factors to consider when evaluating your SEO needs:
1. Business Goals
When thinking about any program, your business goals should always come first. In fact, when businesses come to us asking only about traffic and rankings, we try to push them towards what really matters — their overall goals (and, of course, sales)!
As noted above, an SEO program could involve a number of things. By understanding what your overall business goals are, you can determine which SEO services would best fit your needs. Do you want to increase conversions? Build brand or product awareness? Gain visibility locally? Fix a Google penalty? Each of these will require a different SEO strategy.
2. Existing Performance
Another factor that must be considered is the existing performance of your site. When we are assessing potential clients, we look at their analytics data to provide us traffic numbers and conversion numbers over time. We need to understand what we are up against and/or what we have to work with.
Take, for example, Client A:
Client A came to us a year ago with a site that had been on a downward trend for 12 months. In order to get the site back on track and moving in a positive direction, we knew it would require a lot of work and a lot of time on our part. In turn, we created a pretty hefty proposal that included quite a bit of on-site work and off-site work. Thankfully the client understood their position and was on board.
Take a look at how your site has performed over the past couple years. Look at traffic trends, conversion trends, and any other pieces of data in analytics that will help you understand what your site needs. This will also help you figure out what type of budget you may have to put together. If you’re fighting a negative trend, you are going to need a more in-depth program.
3. Resource Constraints
Know where you need help. One of my biggest frustrations with any client is when they tell us they have plenty of resources, yet when the program starts, there is suddenly no one there to do what we need them to do.
Just be realistic.
If you know where you are lacking, you can start to figure out how an SEO provider can fill in the gaps. For example, if you know that you need content on the site but you don’t have the internal resources to create it, you probably need to rely on your SEO vendor.
It also works the opposite way. If your SEO vendor is proposing writing content for you but you have five content writers on staff, you might just need some editorial guidance to ensure your content team is targeting the right topics and keywords to help drive traffic and conversions. A full content creation program is not needed.
Any business who is thinking of engaging in an SEO program should make sure that they have a good understanding of each of these factors going in. It will make the proposal process easier, it’ll help you find a vendor more quickly, and hopefully, it’ll help you create a successful program that helps you hit your business goals.